Speak Out 02/01/04

Sunday, February 1, 2004

Economic ship

ACCORDING TO the Department of Labor, there have been approximately 2.3 million folks who have lost jobs since 9-11. The other side of that coin is that nearly 1.8 million individuals are no longer collecting unemployment. That leaves a net loss of about 500,000. Current unemployment rates are still running around 5 percent. Static unemployment (that's the rate of unemployment at any given time that is made up of people who are temporarily out of work) is around 4.5 percent. Most economists will tell you that we actually need between 4.5 percent and 5.25 percent unemployment in order to provide a work force to a growing economy. Unemployment will also generally lag behind the rest of the economic growth indicators, because business has to get better before more jobs become available. Don't panic. The economy is growing. She's a very big ship. Give her time to complete her turn.

Will it be enforced?

I SEE where both Jackson and Cape Girardeau city councils have recommended a ban on bottle rockets and shortened the time for fireworks. When fireworks season gets here, will the police enforce the ordinance? Or is this just another show to put on the books?

Playing catch-up

A SPEAK Out comment said Cape Girardeau should be able to fund the police and fire departments with a 4 percent increase in tax revenue. This is fuzzy math. Repeated studies and comparisons show that our police and fire department salaries are 75 percent of other cities our size. There is an even greater financial need to replace outdated equipment. A 4 percent increase in tax revenue will do little to resolve this growing problem. The longer the city goes without catching up with the rest of the world, the more expensive it will be to do so in the future.

Other cutback options

OUR GOVERNOR cut spending for education and blames it on the Republicans. If the governor wanted to, he could spend all that was appropriated for education and cut back other things like the Department of Conservation or prisons.

Come clean, Mr. President

DOES ANYONE else have the feeling that President Bush is being less than totally honest with the American people? He led us to believe that we had to invade Iraq because there was an imminent threat to us. He said Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction. Now after 1,000 inspectors have looked everywhere for 10 months. There are no weapons of mass destruction. President Bush says Saddam Hussein had programs to develop weapons of mass destruction and besides, he was a bad man and the world is better off without him. That may be true, but it is not what Bush told us when we invaded Iraq. I would have more respect for him if he would honestly admit it.

Street near schools

MY KIDS go to West Lane Elementary School in Jackson. Every time it snows or ices, every street in town is cleared except for the street between West Lane and Jackson Junior High School. With those pine trees on the junior high property, it's shaded. You would think the city would realize that there are going to be parents and buses driving there and would put more effort into cleaning the street.

Cottonwood needs help

THERE ARE plans to close Cottonwood Residential Treatment Center in Cape Girardeau as part of the governor's budget proposal. This idea is gravely disturbing on several levels. Southeast Missouri is already rated among the underserved areas regarding the well-being of children. Cottonwood currently serves 32 severely emotionally and behaviorally disturbed children that have been unable to function safely within the community. In many cases, Cottonwood has been the only alternative in the state to juvenile detention for those with the mental health diagnosis. Without this program, the community and school systems will be inundated with children with special needs and no appropriate means to manage these conditions and no extra funding to manage these conditions. Holden and the Department of Mental Health are making dangerous decisions which will result in crisis situations all over the region. I'm asking for help in stopping such a tragic occurrence. The schools and the communities do not have the funding or the programs to help these children.

Good columns

I WOULD like to congratulate Jenny Proctor and Lance Hahn for their guest columns. It was nice to read something cheerful about American pride. Congratulations to both of them. They were good columns and spoke the truth.

Informative report

THANK YOU for including the Jackson police report in the Southeast Missourian. I think it's imperative to know what's going on in the neighborhood such as burglaries and other crime. Thank you very much.

Truth about schools

CAPE GIRARDEAU School Board president Sharon Mueller remarked at this month's meeting that stakeholders want better public communication, but she missed the whole point. I attended that stakeholder meeting and heard many who were there stress that the public wants more truth from the board. Our schools are in trouble. With half our students failing the Missouri Assessment Program tests, Mueller just doesn't get it. We want better information, not more fees and freezes, not more and more same old concocted excuses, squandering of money and failure to educate.

The gotcha game

WE WANT government to stop wasting our money. We are tired of handouts to every group with a whine. The decision to close Cottonwood Treatment Center is not about funding. Closing Cottonwood will not make a very big dent in the budget. Cottonwood is about Gov. Bob Holden acting like a 2-year-old and getting back at our area legislators because they will not support the biggest, most economically damaging tax increase in the history of the state.

Poor get tax refunds

HAVING TAXES withheld from your paycheck is not paying taxes. The working poor receive all of their withheld income taxes back at the end of the year plus an additional amount of earned income credit, which is my tax money redistributed to the poor.

Everyone should pay

I AM a former Central High School athlete I think asking students to pay to participate in school-sanction activities (sports, band, speech-debate, Scholars Bowl) and not other activities is blatant discrimination. Why should athletes or musicians carry the brunt of this budget crisis and not others such as Student Senate members. There are more students involved with Student Senate than the speech and debate team.

Great column

I ABSOLUTELY loved the "Nothing can top Diet Dew and Bugles" column. It was great, Heidi.

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